REVIEWED: TRANSPORTER 2

transporter 2 poster

AUDREY BILLINGS (Amber Valleta): I thought you were a professional driver?

FRANK MARTIN: A different kind of driver.

If the name of the site and the company doesn’t make it clear, then I’ll make it crystal right now: I’m a HUGE action movie fan. I was watching Aliens, Predator, and Terminator 2 when I was five- all uncut, and all at my mom’s recommendation. The advantage? I grew up loving really GREAT action films that not only had huge explosions but deep stories or at least solid directing and command of plot.

The Transporter 2 stars the quickly-rising popular action icon, Jason Statham (who’s career could go down the drain if enough people see the next Uwe Boll film, Hail to the King- A Dungeon Siege Tale) in a film written by the fantastically-oriented Luc Besson, directed by the ever-growing Louis Leterrier, in a movie about a man who is moving things for money with his tricked-out ride. In this film, his “item” is a young boy going back and forth to school for a month, only to be kidnapped by the “nefarious badguy.” This angers our hero, who goes to save him and stop an even more twisted plot to take down the entire DEA. Or something like that. Cars crash, explosions explode, and people get smacked with Jason Statham’s fire hose…no that’s not a pun that’s actually what happens…deal with it.

Now all grown up and starting my own film business, I’m on the way to working on two of my own action pictures, The Peregrine Saga, and The Atavist Splinter: BLIND-SIDED. I love listening to rock songs by bands like Disturbed and N.E.R.D., all while imagining what great action could flow with it.

So even when it comes to downright cheeze, I will watch almost any action movie at least once. I mentioned in my last post that I’m an avid fan of Ryuhei Kitamura’s VERSUS (2000), a movie so low-budget it makes El Mariachi look like it was personally funded by Microsoft. The style was high but it was also “so obviously fake looking we’ll wink at the camera while shooting each other” extremely shot that I couldn’t get it the first time. The second time I loved it, and the third time while listening to the director’s commentary, I absolutely fell in love with how it sky-rocketed Kitamura’s career- the man has since directed the 50th Anniversarry Godzilla film, and the cutscenes for Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. I also seem to remember that his movie Azumi is officially coming to America soon…I’m going to be checking that out.

Anyways, that’s all beside the point. Today was Christmas, and under the tree I mostly got clothing. I also got two DvD’s: Miami Vice (say what you will, Mann knew what he was doing in my opinion), and, oddly enough and not at all requested, The Transporter 2.

I’m a fan of numerous things in film, but when it comes to action there’s two things that excell: Luc Besson and Jason Statham. Luc Besson is the legendary French director who brought us such classics as The Professional (one of the highest rated movies on IMDB as you can clearly see), and the less-critically loved but undoubtedly clever The Fifth Element. Luc Besson does not direct this film, however, he gives the reigns to one of his most trusted associates, the young and upcoming action phenomenon Louis Leterrier, who has directed the other Besson-penned masterpiece, Danny the Dog, AKA Jet Li’s Unleashed, and of course the original Transporter. Luc Besson’s taste for action is hard-hitting, realistic elements put into fantastical settings and bizzare situations. Usually this pans out brilliantly as was the case for the films Unleashed and one of my personal favorite action flicks, District B13 (review to come soon!) in which the action can be seen as the point, but the stories and characters behind it are built up to be something just as strong as any punch thrown in terms of integrity and growth.

Unfortunately, the story for The Transporter 2 is incredibly…mmm…I’ll just use the\ word “blah.” Now, I can usually deal with this being that I was raised in a video game society (which the other Jason Statham flick, Crank, satires saliciously) in which paying attention to a story wasn’t necessarly goal number one. I, however, being the elitist jerk I am, could hardly ever swallow a game unless the story along with it proved to be just as exciting as the action. I kept that policy from childhood, and it has followed me into my career as a filmmaker and reviewer. For instance, the Tony Jaa flick Ong-Bak, was a great duty-bound story of a man who had to save his village from people who did not respect the faith of others. It ends with one of the minor characters redeeming his flawed ways and re-learning the respect he was taught as a child. That’s gold! The Protector (known as Tom Yum Goong outside the ‘States), the spiritual successor to that film, starring Tony Jaa again, lacked that same continuing message, instead just going for balls-out (and less solidly choreographed) action. In the end, the good guy literally kills EVERYONE and then just walks away peacefully with no real growth or explanation, aside from a decent albeit only ironic monologue by one of the minor characters.

To compare it to one of those two films, which aren’t necessarily polar extremes but certainly different variations of similar styles (like how my younger brother keeps trying to explain to me the difference between the 2 billion different styles of Metal music), The Transporter 2 would have to fit into the second category with The Protector. That’s ok though- the action it brings in with it is great: intense and well paced, with variation of some of the best car chases in recent history and a lot of cheesy “finale” effects that still prove amusing even after the realization that they’re 90% CGI.

kicks

This all works because of one thing: Jason Statham himself. His IMDB profile claims he does all of his own stunts, and since he’s still rising in popularity and shows off some level of integrity with his acting, I doubt his profile is as cluttered with mis-information as Jean Claude Vanne Damme’s (freaking gymnast!). If I ever found out it was a lie, I’ll personally tell you, personally. In any case his stuntwork is very welcomed as not a lot of people had been doing it until the last few years without a stuntman to back them up, and I like that step in the right direction that modern action flicks are taking. I know Harrison Ford did it way back in the day with the Indiana Jones series, and the thing about this is it REALLY strengthens the acting and connection the actor has to his character. Statham pulls off his role remarkably, with Bond-like charm and pure bad-assedness. His fight scenes are pulled off with enthusiasm and brutality, and its really great to know the man behind the wheel for the remarkable chase scenes is actually the man getting out of the car in the next shot.

So we’ve got a great writer with a so-so story line and a great action star with some so-so action. Other than the damned-decent opening performances of the little kid (first timer Hunter Clary) and some of the bad-guys, the acting is nothing special. The direction is solid but ends up being overblown with impossible sequences that, while good for munching popcorn, only end up causing yawns upon later viewings. I enjoy CG work when its done right, however in an action movie when the main focus of the action is realism and choreographed stunt work, CGI takes away my “how did they do that?” factor and doesn’t exactly inspire me to watch it upon later viewings.

The movie does strike a decent balance between stylish and cheesy, and over all is a fun view for any action enthusiast or person just looking to lose their brain for an hour and a half. Things blow up stylishly, you get one great character in Statham’s Frank Martin (who, up until Casino Royale, was one half of the future twin-split children of the James Bond franchise, the other half being Jason Borne from the Bourne series), running the paces of current action movie trends, such as white guys doing insane martial arts. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT as long as they got the balls to do their own stunts!

So, my review is going to be a little hard for me to swallow, but I can really only give this flick a 2/4, seeing as, while I enjoyed it, it won’t be something I’m going to watch over and over again for the action or the story line, but will encourage me to keep looking forward to Statham’s work. He’s got SO much potential to be one of the next great action stars, returning us to Schwarzenegger’s glory days of the late 80’s.

Let’s hope he keeps it up.

transporter 2 dvd

This film STRIKES A POSE!!! from the driver’s seat, zooming past the road only to kinda fly by without much notice.

**/****

  • I completely agree. If you are looking for a movie where stuff blows up and people’s asses get kicked, this is it. Its not something that you would want to watch more then once or twice, but it is entertaining.